Monday, January 30, 2012

Garden beds stained, sealed, and filled!

A couple weeks ago, I posted about the garden beds being finished being built.

Well, this last Thursday/Friday/Saturday, we had an open window for weather. So, those beds all were stood upright (like an odd Stonehenge) and 3/4 stained... and then, the next day, they were flipped and the last 1/4 were stained.

The hens... um... "helped" with the drying process...

Two, guilty ones scurrying away from the scene...

I had four cubic yards of NICE dirt delivered on Friday afternoon. I figured we'd need more, but since this place normally over-delivers, I didn't want to get stuck with too much dirt and no where to put it.

Here are the first few beds....

And, shortly before dusk on Saturday, they were finished! All filled!

The back half (notice there's space in the back left for the compost bucket and water collection bin):

See? The wheelbarrow is where those items will go.

And, the front half.

I should also note that I arranged the beds in a way so that the back gate can still open halfway (that's as much as we needed). I had thoughts of rehanging the gate so it opened into the alley, but then I realized that since the alley slopes upward, the gate wouldn't be able to open well. DRAT. But, with some careful planning, we hardly lost any space. I think we'll even put a potting/seedling table where the gate opens. We can always move a table... moving a garden bed is a bit more difficult.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Public Service Announcement: YEARLY TESTING

GET IT DONE, ladies: An annual pap test.

Someone near and dear to me in my life just got diagnosed with cancer. More on why you should get tested frequently, after the fun graphic...

I promised her I'd do a post, and, wholeheartedly, here it is. She's post-60 years-old. The average guidelines say "every two years," and the older-than-60 guidelines say every three years (this is under the new Obama health plan too).

In the words of the woman I know: "If I had waited three years, I'd be a dead woman."

Ovarian, uterine, and other female reproductive tract cancers are not to be messed with. The Pap smear in my friend? Revealed ONLY ONE PROBLEMATIC CELL. ONE. But, that one cell prompted more tests. A good doctor prompted thoroughness.

And a life-saving diagnosis was made EARLY, the most important word one can have accompany the word "cancer."

Yes, it's not fun. AT ALL. But it could save your life.

YEARLY, people, YEARLY. ANNUAL. Your health isn't something to be messed with.

Please share with those around you. You could be passing on very important information.

Thank you all kindly for reading.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Right at a year ago...

Hard to believe that this was a year ago yesterday. Crazy! He's just a litttttle bit bigger, but he still has that same, goofy boy personality.

Can't imagine not having ya here, my big, galomping elephant. Maddie thinks the same thing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snowshoeing with the Puppy Dogs

We went up into the local mountains (about an hour away) today to go snowshoeing.

To say that driving in snow makes me nervous is an understatement... But Bob was a great driver, and we returned unscathed! Yes, even though the roads looked like this:

My nerves were not calmed when we put the snowchains on either. Both snapped off within a half hour. SIGH. Wasn't a fan of the type we had anyway, but that is not the way I like to have to get new chains. Also, running on a highway, in the snow, to go and get the fallen off chain and hoping no traffic comes while I'm out of the car (since there's not much of a shoulder)? NOT FUN. No traffic came both times, and I ran like the freakin' wind.

The puppydogs LOVED the snow. Bailey faceplanted frequently, but he also chose to bound into snowdrifts frequently, so this wasn't surprising. He had large, tennis-ball-sized chunks of snow attached to his tummyfur.

Maddie's pantaloons (the fur on her short little legs is quite impressive) were so covered in snow that she looked like she had huge, furry boots on. She moreso bodyplanted into snowdrifts because of the short legs, but then she bunnyhopped around and was just fine. Everyone was impressed with her spunk.

And then Bailey knocked the camera out of my hand and into a snowbank. SIGH. So, there are only a few photos and one, shaky video. Next time, next time.

The dogs slept the whole way home. Bob and I stopped for a bite on the drive back, and while we were inside, Maddie upgraded to the front seat. Sigh. Cold wet doggie behind on the two front seats. Luckily, we had stuff to throw on the front seats for the rest of the ride home.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I bought tulips yesterday to cheer up my kitchen.

Why? Here's why...

Here's what the tulips look like in the middle of the day with a flash on the camera:

And here's what happens, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, without a flash:

It's been a tad rainy and gloomy recently. Don't get me wrong: I live in the Pac NW and have accepted the weather. I usually like the weather too. But sometimes, a kitchen needs tulips (especially since they get to go in the awesome vase/pitcher from Omom and Odad).

In other, semi-related news, our house is not in a flood zone and our city is mostly in the clear, and so we are not at risk for the flooding that is happening nearby. It's not supposed to stop raining (at least, so says the 10-day forecast). We know people impacted and friends of friends impacted, so we're hoping everything turns out ok. More news here: Oregon flooding.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our bedroom transformation

Late last May, less than a month after we moved in, we painted our bedroom. It was a change that made sense at the time, since at that time, we had a white bedframe and gray nightstands (then purple). The gray worked.

Since that time though, we upgraded to a beautiful, wood bedframe. We tried to convince ourselves that the gray worked (since we got the new bedframe barely a month after the walls went gray). And then, earlier this month, we found new, wood nighstands.

The nightstands pushed us over the edge to consider repainting the bedroom. We had some art in the room that just wasn't working well, and we could never find the right pens to make our quote wall work. And, while I loved our ampersand, Bob convinced me that we could always paint a new one again somewhere else.

And then, we found the perfect paint color: "New Penny" by Behr (Behr's colors always run darker and more vibrant than their online paint chips, so take that link with a grain of salt).

So, without further ado, here is the transformation. Results? We are in LOVE.



We're also thinking of putting two white shelves (the floating kind where you can't see brackets) to the left of the window to balance out the window. Thoughts? I tried to draw two white shelves in the below photo:




After: Bye-bye ampersand, helloooo gorgeous art wall!

Before: Corner facing the backyard.




Close-up of nightstand before:

Nightstands after:

We are very pleased. We still have many to-dos though.

1) Figure out new curtains. The old ones darkened the room too much, so we're deciding between wood pull-up blinds and roman blinds.

2) Touch up paint. That always happens.

3) French closet door! Yes, really. It's down in the garage, cut to size, and half painted.

4) Drawer fix-up. I'd also like to look into putting better guides on the drawers.

5) Shelves or no shelves? We'll see

6) Bedside mats/rugs or not? I'd like to have something warm on the floor on either side, but we seem to always have animal issues (little snots!) with rugs.

But for now? We'll bask in the glow of our new (it feels like it!) room.

A tad more snow.

Still not the 5"-8" predicted, but it's a bit more than yesterday.

Certain cats prefer their blanket-covered boxed though.

Driveway and street are a little snowier.

Awfully pretty though.

Snow's a bit sparse in the backyard, but it'll do (better than yesterday's dusting).

Chicken coop roof holding 1/2"-1" of snow. Bonus points for the builder. And yes, it's now gray and red. More on that later.

Indoor cat giving thanks that he's an indoor cat (he also considers himself to be far too pretty to be an outdoor cat).

Turning pink in the distance...

Zoomed in as far as my camera will go: View of the coastal foothills covered in snow.

Sunshine on the snow.

The Escort in its native climate (it was initially from Ohio):

Bed swipe by the oh-so-pretty one.

And that is our morning. Snow outside, warm inside.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mud. Mud mud MUD.

Remember that little bit of snow we got this morning? Well, the temps stayed in the mid-30s, but that was warm enough to melt the snow and turn the frozen earth into MUCK.

And, not only did we have our two dogs, but we were also watching Moto this weekend for a coworker. It was a bit icy out and dreary, so we didn't want to go anywhere (and transport wet dogs), so we let the dogs into the backyard to get out some energy and let them get filthified.

It turns out they are VERY VERY good at getting filthy.

Youtube video of our FILTHY kitchen and very, very, very, happy, dirty dogs (video upload on blogspot wasn't working):
Click here for the video.

You have no idea how long that kitchen floor took me to clean.

Here's Bath #1 for Bailey:

He actually got two baths because after his first one, he went back into the kitchen. The floors were so filthy (and he wasn't still 100% clean!) that he got dirty again. He had to go back for bath #2 after I cleaned the kitchen (till then he was made to sit on a small towel), and that bath he got SCRUBBED. He now smells like coconut and is prancing around like a pretty princess.

Moto didn't need scrubbing. Hurray for short fur.

And, Maddie got a bath too. Ever think Corgis don't get dirty easily? Check out all the mud that little undercoat holds:

You have to admire how stoic she is. Fine, do your worst. Just try.

I've cleaned the bathroom floor, but I dread that tub. And to think... it was just cleaned two days ago. Sigh.

Possible house color

I found this photo today. Both Bob and I love the color. We've been swaying between blue and green. Blue has the potential to look badly easily (or really great, but there's the bad potential), and there's already a lot of slateish color in our yard with the rock front tiers. This is gorgeous, though you have to envision it with a cedar front door.

This is a good photo of our house to compare (though take away those trees in the backyard-- they're not there anymore-- and all our front yard plants are a bit bigger).

Thoughts? I really like it.

Better than nothing, I suppose...

A mere dusting of snow. A little more is supposed to come, but it's definitely not the 2ish inches I was hoping to wake up to this morning.

Oh well.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Garden beds finished!

Today, we tackled making the garden beds. Before getting to that though, there are a few other things of note:
  • SO MUCH DOG POOP. Here's the problem: A month ago, there were several spots of dog poo on the third tier of our yard. We were going to pick them up, but then it POURED. Then the grass grew. Then we couldn't find the dog poo anymore. But trust me: Today, our boots found the dog poo.
  • We rented an air compressor and a nail gun. A note to others: Compressors will short circuit when attempted to be operated on a 100' long extension cord. Luckily, after many regroup sessions, we figured that we could run it on a 12' extension cord and then using a long air hose which brought the nail gun all the way to the edge of the third tier (so the completed boxes only had to be moved one tier, not three). A chop saw will operate on a 100' long extension cord, so we were initially baffled when we kept flipping the fuse with the compressor.
  • Air compressors have several air outlets on their sides. Flip them and you'll fail to get the right PSI. Noted (again, after several regrouping sessions).
  • Nail guns are all kinds of awesome.
How did we figure out how many beds to build? Well, we had already built several prototypes back in September so we knew what size we liked best (3'x4'). I measured out the space and then mapped it out on Word using arrows to indicate 5' increments. Then the beds got inserted.

Green= beds that are already made. Black= compost bucket. Blue= water bin. That meant we had 13 more garden beds to make.

13 more garden beds. Each bed takes 6 2'x4's to make. That's 78 2'x4's, and that's the story behind my last post. They took 6 trips to/from Home Depot, but I'm happy to report my car's shocks are still intact.

Then each of the 78 pieces had to be cut. Each piece was 8' long, which got cut into a 3', 4' and 1' piece, and then the 1' got cut down to 10.5" long. Each length got put into piles...

The 4' pieces...

The 3' pieces...

And the 10.5" pieces... (We'll have 26 leftover pieces of the 10.5" pieces, but we'll find uses for them).

Oh, and those piles? Weren't complete. Here's the rest of the 2'x4's to be cut. SIGH.

And, here's the space we're working with. This is the 10' wide section. That's the old chicken coop in the back that needs to be dismantled and the wood reused.

And here are our prototype boxes and the 12' wide area of the tier. Examples of the 3'x4' boxes are the two in the very back and the one in the very front. The tall 2'x2' box will be used as a water bin stand. We haven't figured out what to do with the 2'x5' box (behind the 2'x2'), but we'll find a space for it.

And here's the view from the top tier. The photo does not give the view justice. It's purrrdy. It also gets a lot of sun in the summer.

THE COMPRESSOR AND NAIL GUN (photo taken prior to extension cord woes...).

The extension cord and air valve problems set the whole thing back about two hours, including having to move lumber down a tier (we actually moved some down to the bottom tier and then realized we could nail on the third tier, so we moved it back up. SIGH.).

Oh, and I haven't yet mentioned the weather. It was hovering around FREEZING THE ENTIRE TIME. It warmed up to 35 by the time we finished, which was warm enough so the incoming weather fell as rain and not snow. It's also a bit mucky out there, so much so that I could NOT make it up the slope between tier 2 and tier 3. Thank goodness the northern portion is grassed so I could get up that area.

But, all that said, here are the results. Photo 1 of 2:

And photo 2 of 2:

Pretty, aren't they?

I also had to take a photo from the end of the tier to capture them all.


Next steps? Finding a clear weather window of 3-4 days (minimum) so I can stain and seal. Staining/sealing is a LOT easier to do when the beds are standing on their sides, which is why I don't want to do it when the beds are already filled. Worst comes to worst, I might use our tarp, fence, and posts from our raspberry beds to make a makeshift staining/sealing tent (I don't want to do it in the rain, but if the forecast calls for minimal rain, this could help). Of course, that'd take a LONG time (shuffling in/out beds from in my makeshift tent), but we might not have the sunshine to easily stain.

Then comes us needing to fill the beds. That will involve several dirt delivery trips.

And then there's the fence we want to build along the top of tier 3. The fence will have two gates (I think) and arbors over each gate, which will likely house our climbing green beans.

Whew. But at least the beds are built! And the rain started POURING as we drove to return the compressor and nail gun. For once, the weather was on our side.... but that's only because I'm a wickedly fast nail gunner. Almost 700 nails in less than 2 hours? Darn skippity.

And now the snow can come. 5"-8" expected in this storm!